When the government first announced that functional skills in English would include phonics, it sparked concerns about infantilising FE students. But the truth is that the method was already being used to teach reading in colleges and, with adaptations, it appears to have been successful with older learners, finds Chris Parr
The evidence for phonics as a tool to teach reading at primary school is well established. But what about using it with older learners? Does phonics work for those in further education? It’s a controversial question.
When ministers announced in 2017 that functional skills qualifications in English were set to include phonics, the decision was met with concern in some quarters.
Critics feared that teaching approaches could be lifted straight from primary schools and dropped awkwardly into the FE sector, and that using synthetic phonics with older learners could infantilise them.